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The perfect holiday cupcake, these Cranberry Orange Cupcakes are infused with orange zest and fresh cranberries, then topped with a silky cranberry orange buttercream.

Cranberry Orange Cupcakes

  • Author: Deborah
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 18 mins
  • Total Time: 38 mins
  • Yield: 14 cupcakes 1x


The perfect holiday cupcake, these Cranberry Orange Cupcakes are infused with orange zest and fresh cranberries, then topped with a silky cranberry orange buttercream. Make them even more festive by topping them with sugared cranberries.



Sugared Cranberries

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar*


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, roughly chopped


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 23 tablespoons heavy whipping cream**
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries, finely chopped


To make the cranberries:

  1. Combine the 1 cup of sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. If the water gets too hot and starts to boil, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then add the cranberries. (You don’t want the cranberries to burst, which is why you don’t want the water too hot.) Pour the simple syrup and cranberries into a bowl and cover. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Drain the cranberries. Place the superfine sugar in a shallow bowl and add the cranberries. Shake to coat the cranberries with the sugar. Transfer to a surface lined with waxed paper and allow to dry for at least 1 hour.

To make the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 14 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Beat in the orange zest.
  4. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and the orange extract. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter and beat until combined. Follow that with 1/2 of the buttermilk. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the remaining buttermilk, then the remaining flour mixture, beating to combine between each addition. Fold the cranberries into the batter.
  5. Fill each of the prepared cups about 2/3 full of the batter. Bake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

  1. Beat the butter in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until completely combined. Beat in the orange zest. Add in the cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Beat in the cranberries.***

To assemble:

  1. Pipe the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes. Top each cupcake with several sugared cranberries.

Recipe Notes:

Total time does not include cooling time. Time to make the sugared cranberries is not included.

*If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can run regular granulated sugar through the food processor to break it down into smaller particles.

**regular milk can be substituted for the cream, but cream makes a richer buttercream, so it is preferred.

***When you add the cranberries, your buttercream may break – it will look like it starts to separate. This happens because of the acidity of the cranberries. If this does happen, continue to beat the buttercream on medium-high for 5-6 minutes. If this still doesn’t help, hold a kitchen towel that has been soaked in hot water on the outside of the bowl while the buttercream is being beaten. The heat should help the buttercream to come back together. If you don’t want to deal with the buttercream breaking at all, feel free to leave out the cranberries for just an orange buttercream.

Sugared Cranberries recipe adapted from Cooking Light